By Tom Carlin, Miami Valley Area Firefighter

 

In regard to the last article I have wrote, I feel obligated to us all to write a second response to the first. Whilst in the first its easy to pick out problems and to table this and that as a negative cause or impact. I am sure we all can have our own list of points and issues of the negative weather you share some of mine or not. I venture to say at least one or two of my observations is shared among yours, the reader. However on a much more constructive note I wish to provide my listed issues in the previous article with solutions, remedies, improvements and or suggestions as it may be seen applicable. So lets start then.
The first issue I stated was high turn over rates due to the process, time and expense of training. Often many start the journey to never finish. Lets tackle that. Easier said than done right? Well you be the judge. I suggest that if one truly is serious about entering the fire service with career intentions, the ought to research what it really takes in regard to getting to the finish line. With that thought in mind one might consider working a bit more in their current occupation to have more money to start school. There is no shame in doing what you have to, to get where you need to be. Maybe take that extra year and an extra job or two. Next would be look into financial aid programs that some colleges offer. There are grants and student loans available. The end results are worth the struggle. Some departments will even pay for education if you meet their requirements and agree to stay with them for a time. That’s a great way to get the experience the career departments look for. I recommend doing some ride time before school find out if its really for you. Don’t ride at just one department, sample them, each is its own take on the fire service. TALK to the current firefighters about the job, many times have I seen riders come in just to be wall flowers. As a rider you must seek knowledge. Ask questions, the answers don’t fall out of the fire house ceiling into your brain. As current firefighters we should instill the appetite for the job to all who ride with us. Perhaps we ourselves could do more to give these youngsters a nudge toward making a big decision in their life. Someone or something pushed us toward this. They need help and support like we do, and perhaps even a bit more so considering they are in the process of making a big life choice. Its not just a job, its a culture, a family and a way of life. On the subject of injuries ending and deterring many from staying we ought to encourage those entering and new to maintain physical fitness and do it ourselves. We lead by example. We also need to teach the youngsters ways to cope with the reality of it. We need to provide a good support network for those who get hurt or are having trouble coping. Most youngsters do not seem to realize their own mortality. We need to help them realize that they and we are far from bullet proof. When the newbies truly listen, and you as and experienced firefighter tell them of some of your close calls, the should realized that if you came that close to being no more that they would fair no better if not worse thus realizing mortality. As for the issue of time involved they should realized by a certain point in research and ride alongs what they are in for. There is no way around the time involved, its a great sacrifice for some. However with the use of financial alleviation that I outlined prior, the time sacrifice may be much more bearable to potential candidates and young firefighters.
As for the issue of pay there is very little we can do to immediately. However there are things we can do that will impact how we are received and valued by those we serve. With positive impact the next time we ask for a raise in a levy we may get it from grateful citizens who value us highly. We can achieve this by giving top notch service, not just in skill but in interpersonal interaction. Skill is not enough alone. How we treat people we interact with on job impacts our relations with community. One person with a poor interaction tells their families, friends and many others they know. They may even file a compliant against the department itself. Leave the unnecessary tenseness until it is needed. Don’t go out to be a jerk. Treat people as people not just as a run number. Build relationships with those you interact. They will remember it and see that they have an ally there with them and watching over them, their family, and home. Another outstanding way to build public relations is to be proactive in our communities that we serve. Show that we are with them not just when things go bad but back them and their community. When all comes together our residents will be willing to back us when we ask them for more so we can do what we do.

 

Now the topic of poor fire service culture. There is no quick about this and we still must be selective of those we add to our fire family but we must do this in a way that grabs the good people and does not drive everyone away. One big lesson I noticed, in poor culture, that was often forgotten was never forget where we came from. We all at one point were the new guy or young buck making a big life choice diving head first into something school can never prepare you for. We all started with the basic cert.s at one point before we got what we have. Encourage the new guys to drive for more knowledge, more experience and instill a passion for the job. Reward their success do not ignore it. If our culture only focus on their screw ups and being the first to rip their head off we will eventually drive all away. Of course we need thick skin and to own our screw ups, but constant barrages of negativity will eventually chase of those folks too. They get tired of always being jumped and treated like crap. Same applies to the poor treatment of part timers and volunteers. They eventually get sick of the overly macho crap, constant ridicule, ass chewings etc. and will glad to leave it all up to you regardless of when or where. Leave the BS up to the soap operas on the tele. Get yourself straight if you need to. Be inclusive and encouraging to the newbies when they do right and even when they do wrong. Take time to explain to them the whys and hows. Relate to them, sharing your screw ups, as a new guy or as an experienced guy, shows them you too are human and made the same mistakes once. It builds trust in you and they will see you as a go to person, and a mentor and eventually a friend and brother/sister. Remember we want to bring people in and keep them for a long time. Be inclusive share in the grunt work, don’t dump it all on them and crap all over them when its not done in 5 minutes. We must rely on our selves and lead by example. Our officers should strive in providing a positive environment for success and employee retention. Officers don’t be afraid to thump your regular guys when they get too hard on our newbies. Remember they will be the future of the fire service and learn how to act from senior guys and officers. And to the new guys its not always a warm and fuzzy deal. You have to truly earn your place. There will be an amount of crap you must take. Just be able to differentiate between crap and toxic culture. You will not fit into every fire department either. There’s a time to just suck it up buttercup.

What about the surplus of certified personnel in the area? Quite frankly that’s a dynamic we must deal with. However there are things that don’t require certs to make a valuable employee. Such as work ethic. Work hard and long and excel in everything you take on. Ask for the next project and do it too. To help retain the newer guys tech them these values and be a model of success yourself. Then to new and old guys alike go get those extra certs and trainings. Anything to get a head of the curve. Then as an experienced firefighter teach those young guys some of the advanced trainings. Bits and pieces help and instill confidence thus bettering those new guys. It may make them feel a sense of belonging too. And above all they are better for it. Share your advanced knowledge with all in the department. Keep instilling a thirsty for more in all in your department. When folks get stagnant they get complacent etc., but worse they may lose passion for the job and plateau. Hitting that point may make this feel like just another job, don’t let it happen  to your folks. Overall be the guy new or old even in between seeking more certs and trainings than you have.
Thanks for sticking with me here, to new and old alike I leave you with this practice what you preach, and stay safe out there. Remember I’m pulling for you, we’re all in this together.

By Tom Carlin, Miami Valley Area Firefighter

 

Why are the numbers in our (Dayton, Ohio) regions fire service dwindling? Well to answer that big question I’ll list my my reasons and expand on them.
1. High turn over rates: Why do we have such high turn over rates in our area? Several reasons, the education and certification requirements are long and heavily involved with little reward and immediate payoff. Coupled with trying experiences along the way, poor fire service culture.  Possible severe debilitating injury with no paid leave or illness time can ruin or wear one out along the way or completely end it for them. Multiple jobs and schooling are hard to manage as well. One used to be able to keep financially able with 2 or three part time fire service jobs. Now with the hours regulations that is no longer possible requiring other jobs and precious time that could be devoted to furthering someones career.
2. Pay is not the greatest even for full timers: we all know one does not do this job for the money nor should we expect it to be a high paying job. However the public wishes to pay less and less for our services and have the same results. Not just in our line of work are our wages and budgets being scalped, but in all forms of public service and government employment. The public culture movement of increased appreciation for the partying culture and glorification of criminals and thug life has made our public services an enemy of the American people. I in no way am stating we ought to be making football player like salaries but that we must be compensated for what we do in a manner that makes it viable for us to continue to do it. Love for our job and community is not enough alone, we must also have a means of living. Even if the fire service is to move toward a volunteer function again, those of us that depend on our wages will have to find work else where.
3. Poor fire service culture: The culture of the fire service has been changing for a family atmosphere to one of a cut throat back stabbing, gossip factory of overly inflated steroid induced sorority of failed 80s jocks who couldn’t make it past high school sports. There is a level of humility required in this job that the old timers maintained that the newer generation of full timers do not have. Part timers in career departments are looked down upon as moronic burdens, just because of employment status or the fact they don’t have x certification or y certification. I thought ,in an unnamed department where I encountered this culture, I would be working with adults. It was not the case. We should all have pride and confidence in ourselves but to the point where it has a positive impact on the whole organization and the fire service. Mostly its way over done running people out of the department and fire service as a whole. The family aspect of it is a rapidly dwindling culture leaving a cancerous culture of miserable cretins behind poisoning the fire service altogether.
4. Surplus of certified personnel: In our region we have many educational institutions cranking out several certified people in many ranges leaving little jobs and higher requirements for petty part time positions that offer little incentive other than a pay check incapable ,by itself, of much means of support for one let a lone one with a spouse or family. Thus just to enter one may need all the same requirements of a full timer and experience just for the part time job. And most places prefer to hire one with experience. But how can a new person who may be looking at thousands of dollars and hours in training and education justify that when the can not be hired without experience? Its a cycle of doom that can be hard to escape. Not impossible though. There are positions that will hire different cert. ranges without experiences, but those jobs tend to be bottom of the barrel offering poor structure, on job training and equipment and facilities. Its hard to justify that whole process when one can make $15 an hour flipping burgers in some places or doing other jobs that take less skill, education, training, and do present the hazards that our job does.

Just mention staffing or manpower in a room of firefighters of any rank and heads will turn.  It is something we are all concerned with and that very few departments are happy with. If you were at a firefighters conference and asked for a show of hands how many were satisfied with their staffing on engines and truck companies, very few if any hands would go up. If you asked the same question at a fire chief’s conference the answer would be close to the same with a few more hands going up. So yes, it is a concern for all firefighters. For this article I will concentrate on engine company staffing although the same principles could be applied to the truck companies.

 

So what is the ideal number of firefighters that should be on an engine for fire responses? I am not sure anyone can state without argument what the ideal number is, but I’m pretty close to certain that a two person engine company is not it. I can only speak for paid departments although I would think there is not much two people can do as a first arriving unit. If the department always has two engines responding from the same station on every fire call with two personnel on each unit would put four personnel on the fire scene until more help arrives. But if a department had that set up, why not put all four on the same engine? And I am sure there are reasons why you would keep two engines responding, but I can’t think of any. So a two man engine crew can stop at the plug, wrap the hydrant, lay a line and wait for the next unit to connect to the hydrant, but once on the scene entry should not be made except in extreme lifesaving circumstances. But who would go in? Okay I beat that dead horse. A two man crew will get a unit on scene and can take command and perform size up and a quick walk around. But confine, control, extinguish, and maybe rescue will have to wait for another unit.

 

A three man crew is a little better and is what I am accustomed to in the department I worked for. We also had a EMS unit with firefighters responding so that for the most part, there were five personnel on scene with an average response time of about four and a half minutes. And of course there were two more engines and a truck company responding. Within the first eight to ten minutes from alarm time there were usually 14-16 personnel on scene. Yes, it is a good system for three man engine crews. You can leave a man at the hydrant who can then charge the line when ready, walk to the scene and usually arrive at about the same time as the second or third engine. Plenty of personnel to perform the basic firefighting operations required. Did I mention this is in a mostly residential city, and most were single story. So the system worked very well. I certainly can see where that same three man engine crew would not be ideal depending on the demographics of the community. One size does not fit all. With three people you can grab the hydrant and charge it, but you still only have two people at the scene. I feel comfortable in saying that a three person engine crew works well dependent upon the demographics and needs of the individual department or municipality.

 

Four personnel on an engine? All the time? Now that would be great. In my work experience with an EMS unit responding at the same time, you could catch the hydrant, the officer could take command without going in, and still have enough personnel to comply with the two in two out rule. Ideal? As I said, an argument can be made for any number one may think is ideal, but it does make some sense that the more personnel on an engine translates to getting more of the important stuff done when you get on scene. So we can agree at least in concept that four is better than three and three is better than two.

 

A five person crew as minimum staffing? I am sure there are some out there but I don’t know where. It would be interesting if there are any to know the demographics of the community, the size of the department, and how the department came to have five on the engine.

 

At the end of the day, I would submit that ideal staffing on an engine company would depend on your community, the size of the department, response times of other units, and the risks your community leaders are willing to take. These risks certainly should be explained by the fire chief along with his recommendations so that the community leaders can make an informed decision, whether we think it is right or not. When it is all said and done, they make the decision.

 

As firefighters we all believe we know what would be ideal staffing for our engines. As leaders, and as fire chiefs, we probably have the same number in mind but have to weigh that number with what we know the budget will pay for and what we know the community leaders will be comfortable with. Rarely do the numbers match, but as firefighters, we make it work and for the most part done in a safe manner.

 

I have really only touched the surface on this somewhat sensitive subject. But maybe it will start some people thinking.

 

Remember to stay safe – Everyone Goes Home

Hardly a week goes by when a story doesn’t pop up on my Facebook news feed or show up on some news agency page talking about the shortages of volunteer firefighter, EMS or rescue personnel.  All these news agencies report the one thing we all know, volunteer firefighters are a dying breed, but very few reporters print any solutions. It seems the burden of finding new recruits always seems to fall on the shoulders of the department. We’ve all heard the reasons people don’t volunteer: It takes to much training…. I can’t afford to take INEWS106-Volunteer_Firefighters-PHOTO-700x350time from work…My employer won’t let me respond…. I live to far from the station.  Many of these reasons are valid and understandable. While I don’t think that lowering the training requirements is the answer, working together we can find solutions to the other reasons.  It is well known that 69% of all Firefighters nationwide are volunteer and save taxpayers $140 billion annually. Many if not most communities cannot afford to provide fulltime paid responders. While the emergency services providers need to ensure that they do their part to provide professional and well trained responders they are not the only ones responsible for recruiting. I feel that the local community, state and federal government can all do their part to help fill those empty lockers.

There are things that local municipalities can do help give incentive for volunteering. While most department do not have the budget to pay responders the local government can things to show their gratitude to those that give up their time. Developing a property tax credit is one way they can help…. most everyone you talk to complains about paying taxes. Local municipalities can provide a tax credit to property owners who volunteer, after all those volunteers are saving the rest of the local taxpayers’ money.

 

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The State government can do things to help provide incentives as well. They can reduce or eliminate vehicle registration fees for volunteers. In my state, they charge a higher registration fee for having firefighter, EMT or rescue plates. Lowering the registration fee will have a small impact on the State fund but will significantly help the volunteer. Providing tax credits to employers who allow their employees respond to emergencies during the work day is another way to help with department recruitment. It used to be a source of pride for Firefighter License Platecompanies to have their workers on the fire department but due to economic changes it is harder for those companies to be productive when being shorthanded. A tax credit could help soften that and encourage volunteering. Another potential idea to help volunteer departments is having the state set up retirement programs for long term volunteer responders. Wisconsin has a program where the state matches department contributions. Then after a predetermined number of years of service the volunteer becomes vested and upon reaching retirement age them money is played out.

I think the Federal government can step up and help the volunteer responder as well. A program like the GI bill could help provide incentive to volunteer serving the community. If a person dedicates a minimum number of years to the community the federal government could help pay for college via grants, interest free loans, etc.  It would encourage young people to serve their local community and give them real life perspective.  The federal government could also provide tax credits to people who buy homes in areas that have been identified as needing responders. I know there are already urban revitalization programs in existence but very few apply to areas protected by volunteers. Tax credits could also go to employers who encourage and allow employees respond to emergencies. The federal government already funds departments thru grants and other staffing programs but once again many volunteer organizations don’t qualify for staffing grants. Instead of funding the department to hire people we could encourage companies to have their employees volunteer.

I feel our society would be better off with a renewed sense of community and patriotism. I think you become more compassionate when you help someone from a different walk of life. Bringing more people into the fire services family will make for stronger, more understanding, healthier communities.  Perhaps if we encourage young people to serve the community some of our countries other issues will work themselves out. I think that by the government investing in these ways it would be a win/win…. volunteer emergency services will be able to secure people and society would be better.

 

Stay Safe,

Travis

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Here we go. My thoughts on Baby Boomers vs generation X vs millennials and, why I believe we in the fire service are making a issue that shouldn’t be a issue.

Baby Boomers. The people that were raised knowing if you wanted something you’d have to work for it. Stuff wasn’t just handed to you. Stuff wasn’t available. You had to learn how to fix things that were broken. Make due with what was available and survive the best you could.

Generation X The group that learned that hard work made the difference. That helping others was worth the effort. Volunteering was a honorable thing to do. Yet this time period the government started there push on. You has a young person having rights. You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up. Your parents don’t have a right to spank you.
So generation X started becoming a tad bit more out spoken. I tad bit selfish. A bit rebellious. Vowing not to be like our parents and being so hard on our children.

Millennials a group that has bought into just about every lie and bullshit line the government has told them. They believe that the world owes them something. Nobody is suppose to tell them how to do things. They should be able to take a class pass it and go straight to the top.

Know we are starting to deal with the post-millennials. These are the people that think because they showed up they need a trophy. Little disrespectful, lazy no get up and go and think everything is about them and only them.

So that is the short version of each group. Without getting into a long history lesson.

I myself am a generation Xer. Born in the city of Syracuse NY in 1970. Was taught to respect my elders, my country and that hard work never killed anyone. To help people when ever I could even though we didn’t have much ourselves. My father was a Navy veteran. He also rode with the motorcycle group the Outlaw’s in Florida. My father also was Italian. And grow up going to Catholic Schools. So you probably can figure out he was hard on us. My mother was Native American and Irish. So she may have had a little temper.

So here’s the reality of all this. We have nobody to blame for the younger generation being lazy, disrespectful and selfish then us. We allowed it. We sat back bitching about how the schools and government were ruining our children and did nothing about it. We excepted it by not voicing our opinions. We didn’t call our elected officials. We didn’t take a stand for what we believed in. So let’s stop sitting around bitching and complaining about it and except the fact that ultimately we are to blame. Us meaning the baby boomers and generation Xers.

Do we have a hard time recruiting the millennials and post millennials? Yes! Do they come in with a different expectation then Xers? Yes they do! Does this mean we just throw up our hands and say the hell with it? You better not! Do these two last group’s really give us that much of a challenge in the fire service; That we write 1000s of articles about them?
I think not. I think we are playing into political correctness and we need to stop. We need to stop putting everyone’s feelings in front of what is right and values and traditions of the fire service.

Here’s were it gets ugly.

How dare we sit and pass judgement on each other. How dare we disrespect each other. How dare we talk shit about each other. How dare we judge our own by weither they are old or balding or look like a smurf pissed in their hair. Or by there skin color or by their gender. Or there sexual preference. Whether they proclaim to be a christian or not.

We has Firemen and Women should not be passing judgement on any person. Weither they belong to the fire service or not. We should hold ourselves to a much higher standard then the rest of the world. We should respect everyone as a human being that may have something to offer us. If we would just start by respecting one another we would end most of the plan stupid ass bullshit that we face in the fire service.

Just because we respect one another doesn’t mean we have to agree with what one does. But what others do in their own homes is none of our business. As long as it isn’t illegal or hurting our departments reputation. The sooner we in the fire service start respecting one another the better. The sooner or commissioners or city officials start respecting the members of the fire department the better off we will be. The sooner we realize political correctness has no place in the fire service the better off we will be.

Now to sum this all up. You Chief officers and line officers. If we are to quit pussy footing around and tell everyone up front what is expected of them and then follow through, and hold people accountable. We wouldn’t be having these write ups about all the different generations. Quit making excuses and step up and lead!
You senior guy’s. Stop the bullshit of thinking your the best and you don’t owe anyone anything. I have 18 years in the fire service. Im a pretty good firefighter. But I’m not a great firefighter. We don’t see enough fires to be great. We owe the younger generation our knowledge. We owe the younger generation respect for being willing to join our ranks.
You younger generation of folks. Remember this if you don’t remember anything thing else. Nobody owes you anything. Show the senior guy’s the respect that they deserve. Shut up listen and learn. Don’t be in a big hurry to jump into a line officer position. Do your time. Learn the functions of the department, all the different roles and operations.

When we get younger people to join let them know right up front what is expected of them. We are not here to babysit them. We don’t have time or resources to deal with petty bullshit. We have standards that we expect to be followed and if they can’t handle them not to bother joining.

Even though we are in a time of the fire service changing this is the reason I believe we have no reason to be making a huge deal out of the different generations. The fires we fight our more dangerous then ever. They burn hotter and faster than ever. The chemicals and gases that come off from these fires are deadlier than ever. Therefore we shouldn’t be worrying about and trying to accommodate to everyone’s whim. We are here to protect life’s and property. It is our responsibility to make sure every one of our people are trained to be the best and to be able to do this job safely. It’s our responsibility to make sure when we all respond to a emergency that we all come home.

So why are we worried about the different generations? The fire doesn’t care about our age, gender, race. So why do we?

So let’s start off with respecting each other. Quit the bullshit that one generation is better than the other. Then let’s work on letting everyone on our departments know what’s expected of them and start holding them accountable. I believe that these two things alone should be enough to get rid of this different generation problem that we think we have.

So now the question is how far off base am I with all this?

I have spent the last eleven years on a small combination department consisting of fourteen full time firefighters and ten volunteers. We seem to run into the same problems firefighters across the nation run into every day. We fight fires with less resources but are expected to more than what we are capable of doing. Our shifts consist of four career firefighters with a three firefighter minimum. Consistently we are responding to emergencies with three personnel and having to do the work of ten, with help coming 10-15 minutes later. So the question is, how can we get our tasks done timely and efficiently on the fire ground with fewer personnel than our bigger city departments.

 

The first step is getting our personnel to buy in. Getting them to go from “We can’t do that this isn’t the FDNY”, to “Let’s make this happen,” can be a challenge. This takes a game plan and hours on the training ground and good strong leadership. Every firefighter knows the first five minutes can make or break a scene. Every situation is different and no two scenes are the same. Prioritizing our tasks becomes a way of life with few personnel on scene, as only one task may get done at a time.

 

So let’s start with the leadership. Company officers are the first step to buy in. In smaller cities and towns, we usually don’t see a battalion chief showing up and running the show, its usually the first arriving company officer. That officer has a million thoughts running through their mind including size up, resources needed and initial tactics and tasks. It takes a solid officer or senior firefighter with great leadership skills and a great command presence. You have to be willing to go above and beyond for your crew. As an officer it’s your job to stay up to date on your training, going to trade shows to see new ideas and technology and leading from the front. If you drill on the training ground on how you want things done, then when the time comes, it will never be questioned. A step like this takes time, patience and a lot of training. Also as the company officer you need to set your expectations out on the table for your crew to know. If they know what you want and how you want it done there will be no excuses or questions to be asked at any incidents that you respond to.

 

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So the next question is how do you fight fire, do search and rescue, ventilate and possibly provide medical support with a small amount of people in that first five to ten-minute window. So what’s the answer, TRAINING. We train to do these things till it becomes second nature. We train our crews to make an educated decision like, how to position the truck upon arrival to allow maximum use of our hose line and deploying the proper hose line without being told. We train them how to do search off the attack line. We practice VEIS (Vent Enter Isolate Search) on known victims. We train them to use their senses to look at the time of day, read what the smoke is doing, look for vehicles in driveways and use their ears to listen for yelling victims. We want situational awareness 100% of the time as we don’t have the help of thirty other firefighters to get this done. Training has to become number one for small town USA departments, as fires are coming fewer and farther apart.

 

If we have a known victim or time of day leads us to believe that there is a victim inside and the may be salvageable then we need to figure out whether to put the fire out or initiate VEIS to search for victims. We do this by training on smoke reading, learning fire behavior, identifying building construction type and knowing general human behavior. These are basic things that all firefighters of any level in a smaller entity should know. Keeping up on the latest UL/NIST Research, such as door control for controlling ventilation and flow paths, and wind driven fire events, change how we train and how we ultimately act on the fire ground. Not to mention training makes us more efficient and just plain better firefighters.

 

I know this is all words we have either heard or read before but it leads into the next step which is fire ground efficiency. Utilizing your personnel when its limited is a testing task. You have benchmarks and tasks that need done but only limited personnel to do it. One thing that we have done that seems to work well is instead of assigning incoming units with predetermined tasks, we Have created a labor pool and use an on deck style of system. We take the personnel and when called for, assign them a task. This allows us to still get fire ground tasks done, but still maintain a personnel labor pool. For instance, you call for two personnel to do a VEIS to a second story bedroom, you get two firefighters that go and complete that task, report back on their findings and can rotate back into the labor pool.  Need a backup line deployed, by the way this should already be done and waiting on personnel to use it.  Firefighters can be assigned to that position upon arrival as needed.

 

So another question asked is what about Rescue intervention teams (RIT)? Well there is an answer, EVERYONE is RIT. You tend to hear the questions, “You don’t have a dedicated RIT team?” “What if something happens?” You tell them “you are trained in RIT and you become the RIT team”. We learn to adapt to these different roles. RIT equipment is still assembled, but you use the on deck firefighters as the RIT team. We’ve learned after the Phoenix studies of the Bret Tarver incident from 2001, that it usually takes more than one RIT team to get a firefighter out of a structure, situation dependent and this gives you a decent labor pool to get that done.  You can assign crews to soften the structure, place ground ladders and do continuous 360s and report back their findings to the other firefighters and command. If the situation arises where a firefighter gets in trouble you have the personnel to get them out. We get better educated firefighters on the scene that have greater knowledge of the structure they could be entering. You have to again train on this as it goes against a lot of what is taught.

 

We all strive to be the best at our job and know that our training could mean the difference between life and death. So why is it that there are still firefighters that fight change and new ideas. We are creatures of habit and when new ideas are brought up that changes our habits, you get some resistance. So let’s help change the minds of these firefighters and motivate them to try something new. I wish we could drop three engines, two ladders, a battalion chief, a rescue and a medic on a scene in the first five minutes but this just doesn’t happen in most fire departments. In the case of the volunteer side, just getting the personnel to help can be a challenge. So, we need to learn to do more with less and become a solid, well trained team. We need to train with neighboring departments and get them to understand what we are doing. They are our help and if they are confused, then the system can start to break down. Teamwork and training becomes the priority. The emergencies will come, with increased training and efficient use of our personnel then we can make any emergency go our way.

 

You will learn to adjust your strategies and tactics to our personnel availability. We can use a lot of the same strategies and tactics as our big city neighbors just sized down and adjusted to our needs. I have met a lot of bigger city firefighters and have spent many hours talking with them. I have found I can get a great education and hear different ways of thinking from them. When this happens I bring back what I have either wrote down or can remember and try to figure out how to adopt it to my department. This will always be a challenge, but it’s a rewarding challenge.

 

So in closing I would like to say just because we don’t have as many people, as many apparatus or just plain the size and area to cover as some of the bigger city departments, doesn’t mean we can’t function and think the same. Through training, buy in and strong leadership this can be done fairly easily. Just remember we all have the best job in the world, so let’s make every second count.

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